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#Thirtyscenesinthirtydays: Day 20 - Arrested Development: Family Chicken Dance

July 30, 2017

I had the privilege of hearing Mitchell Hurwitz speak when Doorman was at the New York Television Festival in 2013 (plug: chrisrussellactor.com/doorman). He's every bit as charming and hilarious as you would imagine (and does an incredible impression of Bea Arthur). When recalling how he pitched the show, I actually got to hear him say, "now, the story of a family who lost everything..." You know the rest. It gave me chills. In fact, I could feel everyone in the audience get wide-eyed and grab the person sitting next to them when it happened. I'll never forget it. It made me miss the show so much. 

 

I think the show's highly-anticipated season 4 return after the long hiatus was, just like the original run, totally under-appreciated -- for different reasons. I personally loved what they were able to do with what they had to work with. The show had effectively made stars out of everyone, and getting them all in a room was an impossible task (though apparently they are all back, together, for season 5. We shall see.) I just would have loved to have seen the room in which Hurwitz worked in while developing season 4 -- how it must have been and insane spiderweb of timelines and connections and matrixes. Yes, it had it's flaws, but god damnit, you had to respect the insanely ambitious world he created. 

 

Anywho, this is another one where I had a hard time figuring out which scene I wanted to write about because, frankly, I don't think there is a weak episode in seasons 1-3. Every scene is hilarious. Every actor is perfectly cast. Every running gag is perfectly peppered into the run of the show, never overused or undersold. I have countless favorites, but the thing that made me laugh the most was everyone's "chicken dance". Starting with Gob, nearly every principal character on the show took the opportunity to call Michael a "chicken", then follow it up with an absurd interpretation of the schoolyard way in which kids mock each other.

 

It all comes to a head in this scene, where everyone is together to take a shot at Michael. This really is everything I love about the show in thirty seconds: all of these wonderful actors, being silly and insane, with Jason Bateman -- the champion straight-man of the decade -- looking on, stone-faced. Then, in essential Michael Bluth-fashion, deadpans, "has anyone in this family ever even seen a chicken?" I mean, how 'bout Jason Bateman? You can't ask for a more generous actor than he was on that show. You just can't. 

I can't decide which dance I love the most. Probably George Sr. Or Lindsay. But Gob did it first, so probably him. I dunno. It's genius. I could watch it again and again and again.

 

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